Independent Life Skills Program Used to Help Homeless Achieve Self-Sufficiency

“We are offering you the opportunity to invest in yourself. We have already invested in you because we believe in you.” When presenting Lifetime Training Solutions’ (LTS) Independent Life Skills program to homeless families, Olive Joyner, Program Director of Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network (DIHN), approaches each person she serves with this statement. DIHN is a nonprofit corporation that provides shelter, meals, housing, and job placement for homeless families.

Olive JoynerLife skills are essential in helping the homeless gain self-sufficiency to live sustainable, independent lives. Most of us take these basic skills for granted, but many of the homeless have never acquired them. Olive Joyner uses Lifetime Training Solutions’ online Independent Life Skills (ILS) to teach the homeless these basic skills. “This is a safe place to get the knowledge without the embarrassment of not knowing. No one wants to be humiliated. The online training takes the embarrassment out of admitting that you’ve never learned these skills,” Joyner stated.

Ms. Joyner uses a custom package of 30 classes selected with the help of Steve Samaha, Director of Lifetime Training Solutions, to address the skills that are needed the most. Stress management, anger management, money management, and communication skills are the most popular classes and are important for these families living in close quarters, as they often display stress and anxiety and need to know how to handle these situations. The skills learned in these classes greatly impact their stay while in the program and their future as they transition to their own place and reengage in society. When motivating the families to take these classes Olive says, “Language is everything.” She lets them know how much she believes and invests in them by telling them, “I want you to be successful and leave with skills you didn’t have in the past to help you succeed. Whether you know it or not, you’re going to learn something.” Olive is very thankful for the online ILS program. “These skills are instrumental to their self-sufficiency and success when moving out on their own. There is no way to teach all of the skills that are presented in the LTS custom package.”

Another motivator is that families can earn $10 for every class that is completed and successfully passed – up to twenty classes. These funds assist them in moving out on their own and must be used for things like deposits, rent, and furniture. DIHN also utilizes a volunteer to facilitate discussions based on the life skills lessons. As a result, all of the families see some benefit from the courses. 100% of DIHN’s clients take some of the courses and many max out and take them all. “All of the lessons connect, and each one reinforces personal responsibility. Most of these families have never been taught these skills before and these classes help them make the connection between personal responsibility and self-sufficiency,” Olive states.

Olive can think of no better example that illustrates how those she serves make this connection than one of her past clients.

“At first she was a very difficult lady to work with. She was hard to place, as her fear and anxiety caused her to have a negative attitude. After taking one of the budgeting courses, she began to see how her bad credit history prevented her from moving forward. She began to make changes, even contacting her old landlord about paying back what she owed him. She has continued to apply the skills she learned from the life skills classes, and this past year she was the guest speaker at DIHN’s Annual GALA. She encouraged others by speaking of the skills she learned and the concepts these skills reinforce. She is just one shining example of the impact these courses make on the lives of these families.”

Olive Joyner and Lifetime Training Solutions are making a difference. She provides a safe place to help these families overcome the hardships of the past and achieve a successful, independent life.

Posted in Independent Living Skills by Brooke Neal at March 12th, 2014.

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